Are you a senior executive looking to bring a discrimination claim? Can your employer claim 'banter' as a defence?

Discrimination in the workplace is no laughing matter - quite the contrary. Earlier this month, it was reported that in cases where an employee (including any senior employee) claims discriminatory remarks or harassment at work, those accused are claiming ‘banter’ in their defence. In fact, UK employment tribunal cases with ‘banter’ as a subject rose last year by 44 per cent.

Discrimination against senior employees in the workplace

Discrimination in the workplace is illegal based on:

  • race (which includes colour, nationality, ethnic origin and national origin),
  • age,
  • sex,
  • religion or belief,
  • disability,
  • sexual orientation, 
  • marital or civil partnership,
  • pregnancy and maternity, or
  • gender reassignment. 

These are known as the ‘nine protected characteristics’. If you believe you have been a victim of discrimination or harassment at work on any of the above grounds, it is illegal. Your employer can even be held responsible if the discrimination took place outside normal working hours but is still considered “in the course of employment”.

Facing discrimination as a senior employee or executive

It does not matter whether discrimination is carried out by your chief executive or the member of staff you line manage. In fact, unfortunately, discrimination is suffered by a substantial number of employees in senior management positions, with 84 per cent of black women stating that they have reported being victims of racial bias in the workforce. Also, in the medical profession, 75 per cent of ethnic minority doctors say that they have been victims of racism.

Does ‘banter’ hold up as a successful defence against a discrimination claim in an employment tribunal?

Whether remarks are considered ‘banter’ or discriminatory can be the win or lose of an employment tribunal claim. It is worth noting that whilst the term ‘banter’ may have raised its profile amongst employment tribunal cases recently, it appears that it is likely only to have a chance at being a successful defence against seemingly discriminatory remarks where:

  • it is not about one of the nine protected characteristics, and
  • you were not offended by it, and 
  • you have taken part in behaviour like it previously. 

So if you believe you have been discriminated against based on one of the nine protected characteristics such as race, do not be put off making a claim of discrimination at an employment tribunal, even if colleagues around you may try to claim ‘banter’. 

Contact Our Award-Winning Employment Lawyers for Executives & Senior Employees in London

This employment law blog provides senior executives with employment-law related news updates. If you need help with employment law issues such as race discrimination or any other illegal form of discrimination, do not hesitate to contact us now.  We have extensive expertise in assisting senior management and employees, particularly those in the financial industry.

We can provide you with assistance in complex yet sensitive employment situations. Cavendish Employment Law is a firm of employment law specialists experienced in handling complicated high-value claims. We have a superb record of success for contentious cases, and we can offer a no win no fee settlement for your high-value claims. 

Call our expert employment lawyers now on 020 8103 5744 or fill in our online contact form.

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